The one young arm Mets would be foolish to give up
If you’ve borne witness to the Mets lately, you’ve probably come away screaming. If you’re composed enough to scream something coherent, it’s probably this:
“Sell! Sell! Sell!”
Allow The Post to tweak that ever so gently:
“Sell high! Sell high! Sell high!”
Which means that, of the Prodigal Five’s four remaining members, little doubt exists over which one the Mets should be most compelled to keep.
That would be the guy who hasn’t been criminally betrayed by this team’s horrendous offense and bullpen … because he hasn’t been around to expose himself to such betrayal.
Why sell low on Noah Syndergaard?
In the wake of an encouraging rehabilitation outing Sunday night for Single-A Brooklyn, Syndergaard, who hasn’t pitched for the Mets since May 25 thanks to a strained ligament in his right index finger, will make his next appearance for the big-league club, Mickey Callaway said on Monday, although the Mets’ manager didn’t specify the exact day.
That appearance this coming week, assuming no further setbacks occur, will mark Syndergaard’s 19th start in more than a season and a half. Surely you remember he made only seven starts last year thanks to the torn right lat muscle he suffered on April 30 in Washington.
That injury infuriated, thanks to Syndergaard’s refusal to undergo an MRI exam despite missing a start with right biceps tendinitis, as well as the Mets’ decision to let him pitch despite said refusal. This injury has confounded; you don’t often see pitchers go down with it.
Neither condition, however, has concerned or alarmed when it comes to Syndergaard’s long-term viability. While they raise general questions about Syndergaard’s ability to stay on the field — and whether his decision to bulk up for 2017 led to last year’s lat disaster — better those than specific questions about a pitching elbow or shoulder.
“I think mechanically, Noah’s in a really good spot as far as trying to project ahead,” Callaway said before the Mets won the opener of their doubleheader against the Phillies, 4-3 in 10 innings, on Wilmer Flores’ walk-off homer (of course). “I think he does a really good job of using his body the right way. When you’re talking about lats or a finger, those are just things you really can’t control.”
Hence, it’s not outrageous to hope Syndergaard can remain fixed and pitch like a frontline starter again. That he can eradicate those larger questions about his health and either become the ace of a retooled Mets roster or improve his trade value for this December, next July or never.
At 25, Syndergaard ranks considerably younger than Jacob deGrom (30), Steven Matz (27) and Zack Wheeler (28) — who struck out eight Phillies over 4 ²/₃ innings in his Game 1 start Monday, with scouts aplenty on site. He has less service time than everyone besides Matz, with both eligible for free agency after 2021. So he owns plenty of service-time track to fix himself and watch the Mets try to fix themselves, and his youth provides further optimism.
DeGrom has built on a terrific career by reaching a new peak, and Wheeler and Matz have both stayed upright and productive for a longer stretch than we’ve seen. On a day when the Mets put Todd Frazier (strained left rib cage muscle) back on the disabled list — yeesh, those older free agents — and promoted journeyman Drew Gagnon from Triple-A Las Vegas for a Tuesday start — yeesh, that terrible roster depth — the baseball gods more than ever pleaded with the Mets to break up this party and start focusing on a more distant future.
Syndergaard, however, should not go yet. You typically sell low when you face a roster crunch or a financial crunch. We know the Mets don’t face the former. The Mets insist they don’t face the latter. Nor do they require a divorce from Syndergaard like they did with Matt Harvey, the Prodigal Five’s founding member, on whom they sold low back in May.
Keep Thor in Flushing and send the others, assuming acceptable offers arrive, on new voyages. These Mets must hit the reset button. Yet they need not be reckless, or restless, in their reset.
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